AT Thru-Hike, West Virginia/Maryland 1997

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(87) Monday, June 16

Zero-mile day.


(88) Tuesday, June 17, 9:00PM

First day out of Harpers Ferry with the folks. It was a great day. The trail was kind, and even the 1000 foot climb up to the South Mountain ridge line was well-graded. Except for the considerable humidity, the day couldn't have been much better. My folks walked very well today with youthful exuberance. It was really a great day. Our pack weights split up very nicely with Mom carrying just over 20 lbs., Dad just over 40 lbs.; and me still under 60 lbs. So far so good. My parents have never done any backpacking before in their lives, though they have shared many camping advenures--some with five kids in tow. I was thrilled at their willingness to take part in my adventure. I helped them borrow some gear and they drove from Cincinnati to hike a well chosen four to five days with me.

We're camped near the Crampton Gap Shelter where we got to see several familiar hikers. It was good for my folks to meet my hiking community. AND today I passed the thousand-mile mark!!

11.1 Miles Today, 1007.2 MTD

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Mom & Dad starting out of Harper's Ferry, WV.
Atop Weaverton Cliffs in Maryland overlooking the Potomac River.


(89) Wednesday, June 18, 9:00PM

I should have invited the folks to join me long ago. I really like their idea of roughing it. We chose a camp spot with a shower, and it was within a quarter mile of a gormet meal. I could almost take offense that Dad didn't enjoy my meal last night . . . the way tonight he ate his escargot, Beef Wellington, and enjoyed his merlot. Instead I just enjoyed my prime rib and amber lager with no hard feelings.

We slept through a constant drizzle last night with each of us getting plenty of rest. We got started slowly this morning as the rain lingered on. When we finally broke camp the rain had let up, leaving a heavy fog in the air all morning. Our hike today was deliberately shorter than yesterday making for a nicely unhurried pace.

We are now back in the tent as the light evening rain continues that began during our fine dinner. Hopefully we'll get a break from the moisture tomorrow, but it hasn't dampened our spirits yet. So far we all seem to be having a pretty good time.

6.6 Miles Today, 1013.8 MTD

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Dad & Mom...
...enjoying a meal at the South Mountain Inn.


(90) Thursday, June 19, 9:00PM

The rain finally broke this morning after drizzling through much of the night, and we were given a gift of a day. The humidity lifted leaving only clear skies with a dry breeze. It made for a delightful day. The folks were incredible, pushing to do a longer day than planned so that we could finish a day earlier and still accomplish some significant miles. We covered some rocky trail today which offered an additional challenge.

Tomorrow I will hike on ahead alone more quickly so that I can hitch back to Harpers Ferry and pick up their car. This means that my parents will have to look up from time to time and make certain they are still on the trail. I'm confident now that they will do very well. They have easily exceeded all my expectations.

13.4 miles Today, 1027.2 MTD

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The original Washington Monument.
Mom with her hiking son.


(91) Friday, June 20, 9:00PM

Today was a very hot day with temps reaching 90. I reached Pen-Mar road by 12:30 and snapped a picture at the Mason-Dixon line before beginning a long series of hitches. My first hitch came immediately from a police officer that drove me the five miles into Waynesboro. I checked into the Best Western, showered, changed and left a little after one o'clock to begin hitching back to Harpers Ferry to get my parents' car. It took four hitches and about two hours, but I was back with the car before four o'clock.

The trail today was much more representative of a typical day on the trail. There were more ups and downs, and a greater variety of surroundings since it wasn't strictly a ridge walk. This also made the trail more challenging today. The steep rocky decent from High Rock had me very worried about the safety of my parents. I knew that they could handle it, but I also new that it would be very hot when they got there and that they would be pretty tired by then. One wrong step could lead to serious injury. I had left them with all the guidebooks, and fortunately they read ahead about this difficult section. They read that the vista from High Rock was accessible by a road coming from Pen-Mar Park. Since the trail paralleled the road, they wisely avoided the trail hazard and finished their hike with a road walk.

The forty miles that we covered in these four days was a real accomplishment for them. I'm so glad that they joined me, and that it went so well. They are already speaking of meeting me in Maine to be there for the finish. I hope that works out.

9.5 Miles Today, 1036.7 MTD

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Pen-Mar Park--The Mason-Dixon Line marking the Civil War border between North and South lies here at the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. The summer heat is obvious now by my perspiration in this picture. Here began my two week intermission.

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